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Companies' Use of Thermal Cameras to Speed Return to Work Sparks Worries About Civil Liberties


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A thermal camera scanning for covid-19 sufferers in Buenos Aires.

Company leaders are scrambling to install fever-screening stations, digital trackers, and other security systems as part of a vast experiment designed to flag the potential risks of the coronavirus spread. But some health and labor experts worry the public health emergency has opened the door for unproven surveillance techniques that could pose privacy risks to millions of Americans.

Credit: Agustin Marcarian/Reuters

The business community in America is anxious to re-open, and company leaders are rushing to install emerging technologies as part of an effort to flag the potential risks of COVID-19's spread.

These technologies range from standard thermometer guns to “social distancing detectors” and thermal cameras, some of which may be used in combination with facial recognition software.

Security officials can use these systems to track and identify those suspected of having the virus, but civil liberties experts are concerned automated systems will monitor crowds of people who may not know or consent to being watched.

While such surveillance systems might be necessary during the ongoing public health crisis, advocates worry such systems will become an accepted feature of American life that will last long after the outbreak ends.

Daniel Putterman of Kogniz said his company’s facial recognition technology, enhanced with the heat-detecting components of thermal cameras, "can help bring things back to normalcy. I don’t believe body temperature is a piece of private information anymore."

From The Washington Post
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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